An Oakland man has been convicted of voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting an Antioch man in a scuffle near a taco truck in East Oakland two years ago. The jury’s verdict against 36-year-old Theodore Walter Jones last Wednesday for the death of 23-year-old Dmario Anderson after two days of deliberations represents a compromise between the positions of prosecutor Mas Morimoto, who said Jones could be convicted of first-degree murder, and defense attorney Lauren Williams, who said he should be acquitted. Morimoto said today that the confrontation between the two men began shortly after 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2010, when Jones drunkenly bumped into Anderson and his friends as they were placing their order at a taco truck on 44th Avenue and International Boulevard. He said the accidental encounter led to a confrontation between the two groups that quickly escalated from dirty looks to punches. When Anderson drew a pistol from his waistband, Morimoto said, Jones restrained him in a bear hug but was shot in his leg when the gun discharged. Jones pried the weapon from Anderson, who turned and ran briefly before reaching for his waistband a second time, according to the prosecutor. Believing that Anderson had another gun, Jones fired six shots, two of which struck Anderson and knocked him to the ground, Morimoto said.
While Anderson was down, Jones walked up to him and shot him in the head, according to Morimoto. Anderson was pronounced dead at the scene. One of Jones’ friends drove him to a hospital in Tracy, where he was treated for the gunshot wound. Oakland police found him there and arrested him. Police investigators found a second gun under Anderson’s body, but ballistics tests determined that it hadn’t been fired at the scene, Morimoto said. The prosecutor told jurors in his closing argument that they should convict Jones of at least voluntary manslaughter but could also convict him of first- or second-degree murder if they agreed with additional facts in the case. Morimoto said he believes a murder conviction would have been justified because there was a four-second pause between the first six shots that Jones fired at Anderson and the last shot that hit Anderson in the head. “That was enough time to premeditate and deliberate,” Morimoto said. But Williams told jurors that Jones should be found not guilty of all charges because she believes he acted in self-defense.
Jones was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm in addition to voluntary manslaughter. Jones faces up to 11 years in state prison for his manslaughter conviction but that term could be doubled if the same jury finds at a separate phase of the case on Tuesday that he has a prior juvenile conviction for a violent crime.
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